Winning with education sponsorship

publication date: May 31, 2018
author/source: Chris Baylis

Educational institutions, everything from primary to post-secondary, represent tantalizing opportunities for corporate partnerships. And yet far more often than not, they fail to hold the attention of potential partners. There are several reasons why. 

Not Managing Relationships Centrally

The education sector usually defaults to a “decentralized” model, which isn’t so much a deliberate strategy as it is a lack of a centralized process of selling sponsorship.

When a sponsor wants to work with an education institution, they don’t see departments, programs, alumni and athletics. They see their target audience niches and want to access those niches no matter where they are on campus or off.

By forcing sponsors to negotiate with alumni, athletics, recruiting and faculties, you are pitting departments against each other and driving down your asset value.

Alumni are one of the Highest Value Audiences Around

Education institutions tend to think of their alumni as graduates of their programs and, eventually, donors. That’s incomplete. When graduates move on to the world of work, they start to influence and control business budgets. People who control business budgets of any size are THE most valuable audiences in sponsorship, yet most alumni departments do not leverage them properly.

Too Much “Free Stuff”

Much of the “sponsorship” that I see happening in the education space is in kind or “free stuff”. Value-in-kind has its place, but the key word here is “value.” When we do valuations, we start with the in kind sponsors and consistently find tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in value left on the table. Educational institutions consistently undervalue their assets.

Waiting to Get into the Sponsorship Game

The education space is complex. It takes time and effort to get all departments on board, and that’s a convenient excuse to put sponsorship on the back burner. The problem is that the sponsorship space is growing by double digits every year in Canada. Education is, without question, a premium sponsorship opportunity but unless you are organized to meet sponsors’ needs, they will look elsewhere.

Every year you wait, sponsorship spending increases and every year sponsors are learning that they don’t need to work with you to access your audience. If you are waiting to get into the sponsorship game, you aren’t just standing still…you’re moving backwards.

Attend Sponsorship Week for Free: Sponsorship in Education: What Every Advancement Professional Needs to Know is one of six powerful workshops available at Sponsorship Week 2018, and you may be invited to attend for free. Pay it Forward is a program that awards five full bursaries to deserving registered charities.

Sponsorship Week 2018 will be at The Grand Hotel Toronto on October 23 to 25, 2018. Learn more about Pay it Forward, or to apply.

Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective . He is an expert in sponsorship valuation and sponsorship strategy. Chris works with brands and sponsorship properties to define their sponsorship goals, determine market value of their sponsorship assets and create strategies that work.

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